I just got back from my first Vegas trip without my wife. Two of her co-workers had never been to Mecca and decided they wanted to go and wanted me to go with them. My wife said yes and we began planning. Here's a link to our pics: http://community.webshots.com/user/columbus221 The two guys (BN and DS) wanted to go on the cheap as much as possible, and it doesn't get much cheaper than Palace Station at $26 a night. I don't think our room could have been further from the casino. If you're familiar with Palace Station, there's a beauty parlor at the end of a hall. We were in the first room to the right of that beauty parlor (RM# 1432). It was decent enough for three guys who didn't plan on being in the room that much. We tried for an upgrade to a tower room, but the desk clerk acted like she didn't hear the request and just handed us the key cards and sent us on our way. We also asked for a rollaway bed so none of us manly men would have to sleep in the same bed, but the same desk clerk told us that we couldn't have one due to fire codes and the size of the room. There wouldn't have been anyplace to put a rollaway, so we swapped every night (minds out of the gutters, people!) so one of us always had a bed to ourselves. Despite this being a boys-only trip, there was no debauchery or drunken buffoonery. There was some talk of a strip club visit, but that never materialized, which is just as well since we were all nearly broke by the end of our three night stay. We walked up and down the strip quite a bit and I was able to see some things I've always meant to on my three previous trips. We were able to catch a fountain show at Bellagio ("Viva Las Vegas") and we saw the Mac King Comedy and Magic Show at Harrah's. That is an excellent show and it is good for the whole family, although it was a little racy in a few spots ("Fig Newton from my pants zipper, anybody?"). Still, whether you're an adult or child, you will enjoy Mac King. And, after the show, he's at the back of the showroom signing autographs and talking to anyone who wants to say HI! Let's see Celine do that! Tried to catch the volcano at Mirage, but only saw it as we drove by one night. Tried to catch the Sirens at TI, but missed it since we were waiting for the volcano. I know most people bash the Sirens, but there was a HUGE crowd watching the show. We were walking back from Mirage and got about halfway to TI when the show started. We thought we could catch the end of it, but as we got closer, the walkway was packed! By the time we walked to the other end down on the street level and worked our way back to the show, it was over. Oh well, maybe next time. BN, DS and I are Star Trek fans and the main purpose of this trip was to go to Star Trek: The Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton. Monday (4/10) at noon, we picked up half price tickets at Fashion Show Mall and added the "behind-the-scenes" tour of both the Klingon Encounter and Borg Invasion in 4-D. But before we did anything, we ate at Quarks. BN and I had sliced prime rib in pita bread with fries, and DS had a salad (sorry, while I'm a geek, I can't tell you the Trek names from the menu). While we were eating, a guy across the way from us had one of the big drinks. I think it was the Borg drink since it was green. He finished it, but looked a little wobbly when he left. As we ate, the Andorian, Vulcan and Klingon characters came by and chatted. The Klingon was the young male whose been there since the beginning. He's very funny and seems to enjoy his role (last trip I got a picture of him with my wife that's now on a mug). After lunch, we were going to do the rides first, then the tour, but we took our time going though the "History of the Future" and were going to miss our backstage tour, so we did the tour first. The guide for our tour was a tall, dark-headed young man, very personable and knowledgable about the attraction. As he was introducing himself, he mentioned something about the three of us and what we had for lunch. We asked him how he knew about our lunch and he told us he was the Klingon who had stopped by our table. I was flabbergasted. I didn't believe him at first, then he did the voice and it was definitely him. He took us backstage and showed us how the attraction works and the makeup/costume area and we stood beneath the motion simulators as a Klingon Encounter show was underway. It's an impressive setup, and if you're interested in how these things work, it's worth the extra money. But I'd still go with the half price tickets. We finally got to the rides. I still prefer the Klingon ride, but I liked the Borg show more this time. Maybe because I was with a more enthusiastic crowd than the last time. Afterwards, we spent a lot of money in the gift shop. All in all, it was a lot of fun and BN and DS really enjoyed it. After the Hilton, we headed to Caesars. BN and DS both work for Scripps Networks in Knoxville, TN. Scripps is the company that puts on HGTV, Food Network, DIY, Fine Living, Shop At Home and Great American Country. The boys wanted to see if we could get in to Bobby Flay's Mesa restaurant. None of us were very well dressed, but they gave us a time about an hour away, so we played a little at Caesars. BN and DS decided they wanted a drink and went into the Shadow lounge across from Mesa. I think the silhouettes of the ladies dancing led them to choose that location. I kept playing the slots and losing. At our reserved time we entered Mesa and were seated quickly. We all chose the 16 spice rotisserie chicken that came with buttermilk and chive mashed potatoes and no other sides. It was one of the more reasonable entrees at $28. A basket of bread was delivered to start. The waiter told us what was in the basket, but I didn't catch everything he said. I do recall hearing the word "cornbread" and that caught my attention. I'm a southern boy and my momma made a mean cornbread. I eagerly dug past the other french-bread-looking stuff. But what I found concerned me. The cornbread had a large splotch on it that looked like mold. I picked it up and showed to the guys and they told me it was yellow and blue corn cornbread. OK, that's better. The cornbread had a little spice to it and was very tasty. Our chicken and mashed potatoes arrived fairly quickly and it was also something of a surprise. Apparently, they are using midget chickens for this dish. The leg and thigh were smaller than I expected, although the half a breast looked about the right size. Allow me to confess, I am not a foodie. I am a meat and potatoes kind of guy. While the chicken was good, it wasn't anything I'd look forward to having again. It had a slightly sweet taste with a hint of ginger and cinnamon. I'm sure it is perfection to some, but to me, it was an overpriced, odd-tasting, tiny chicken. BN and DS gave it high marks and I played along. It was getting late by now and we headed back to our humble digs for the night. Tuesday was Mac King day and we caught the 1pm show at Harrah's, but not before we enjoyed some haute cuisine at the McDonald's next door. Now this is my kind of food...greasy and easy. We chose to eat outside and enjoy the beautiful weather (everyday was sunny and in the upper 70's to low 80's). Of course, you meet only the best folks at the McDonalds, like the guy who obviously hadn't bathed for a few days who was passing himself off as a club promoter to a couple of 20-something guys and they believed him. Or the woman who was laid back in her chair on the patio and sawing logs like a lumberjack. Then of course, there's the truly wild creatures of Las Vegas...the little birds who were buzz-bombing us trying to catch a wayward french fry. If it wasn't the best meal, it was awfully entertaining. After Mac King we parked at TI and walked around for a while then ate at Dishes. I wasn't impressed with the TI buffet when I was there in January 2005. But it seems to have improved since then. There was a good selection of everything, the fresh made fettuccini with meat sauce was excellent. All three of us had a broad sampling of items and we all thought it was very good. I still think $20 is a little high, but only a couple dollars too high as opposed to the five or so I thought from my last trip. After dinner we tried to catch the Sirens, but wind had caused the 7pm show to be cancelled. This was when we headed up to Bellagio and caught the 8pm fountain show, then tried to see the volcano at Mirage at 8:30, but it never went off. We headed back to TI and then saw some fireworks and heard a boom, and we knew we had missed the 8:30 Sirens show. One out of three kinda sucks, but I'm still glad we saw the fountains. Among some of the other things we saw and did include spending a fair amount of time walking around the Venetian Canal Shops, walking through the Worlds Largest Gift Shop across the street from the Sahara, and going up the Stratosphere tower and doing the rides (some combination of us did all three). Those rides are not designed for fat people. I rode XScream and Insanity. The device that holds you in place pushes against your midsection and then short belt acts as a safety in case the mechanism fails. You can't ride unless that short belt is locked in. So, both times, the ride operators had to get a running start and mash the device into my ample gut to get the belt to snap in place. That wouldn't have been so bad (aside from the embarrassment), but the first time, I discovered my bladder was a little full. OUCH!!!! Neither ride looks that scary when you're watching, but both are worth the price. I didn't do Big Shot, but the guys did and they said it was very intense. We drove from Knoxville, TN to Nashville to fly Southwest to Las Vegas and save over $100. All our flights were on time and uneventful there and back. We were afraid we were going to miss the flight from Vegas. We got started a little later then we meant to, plus we had to drop off the rental (upgraded from an economy to a minivan at no charge). We arrived at the airport in plenty of time, but security was backed way up and wasn't moving very fast. They finally added more screeners and the line began to fly, but we were still concerned. Turned out we made it with a few minutes to spare. The flight attendants announced over the loudspeaker the number to call the NSA to complain about the slow screening process. Gambling was minimal and costly, but this trip wasn't about gambling, it was infecting two pure souls with the Vegas Virus, and I believe their immune systems have been compromised. They both said we needed to do another boys' trip. DS's wife is an eBay powerseller and has an eBay store. They are going to a convention in June called "eBay Live" at Mandelay Bay (I think that's where it's being held). He's hoping once his wife sees Vegas, she'll want to go out there on a vacation. BN thinks his wife would like it also. He was torturing her with pics from his cell phone the entire trip. While this was no MM3, me and the boys had a good time and I'm already seeing if I can't squeeze in another trip. Maybe that birthday trip I cancelled last year. How sick am I? I've only been home from Mecca a few hours and I want to go back!